Young, thundering herd

So I had just commenced my Literature lesson yesterday when one of the boys (Boy A) abruptly walked into the classroom.

I eyed Boy A irritably, annoyed that he was late but I didn’t make a fuss about it.

Until Boy A went right up to another boy (Boy B), casually handed him a homework assignment that belonged to yet another boy and had a very congenial and drawn-out tête-à-tête with Boy B before returning to his place, all while right in front of me.

By then, I was pointedly glaring at both boys but they didn’t notice anything amiss, until I said in a sharp tone, “Eh, you all don’t even have a sense of propriety, is it?”

Because the point I was going to make was about how they needed to have the courtesy to:

  • Be punctual for the lesson;
  • Greet the teacher when they enter the classroom;
  • Be polite and not disrupt the lesson, etc. – good manners, in other words.

But there was somewhat of a long silence and a bit of uncomfortable squirming in the classroom before Boy A piped up to ask, “Sir – what is ‘propriety’?”


I eventually pointed out to them the need to learn about decorum and etiquette.

Before that, we did a bit of vocabulary: I told them that “propriety” has the same root word as “appropriate”, where both are derived from the Latin word for “proper”.

On a separate note, the class has a class flag on which is inscribed the words “Young, thundering herd” (it’s on the left-hand side of the picture).

It cracks me up; I always break into a grin whenever I see it, because it proves my point about the universality of pigletry.

About the author

Laremy Lee

A versatile educator, writer and editor, Laremy Lee (李庭辉) has the uncanny knack of being one of the few among his generation in Singapore who crafts compelling stories in different genres.

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